AUGUSTA — As the new fiscal year began with a possible $100 million shortfall looming, Gov. John Baldacci ordered a state government hiring freeze.

The order signed today by Baldacci places a hiring freeze on vacant positions and limits overtime, travel and other expenses. The order allows for emergency exceptions.

The governor has signed similar orders since 2003 to address revenue shortfalls. The administration is also looking at possible program curtailments to address the shortfall for fiscal 2011, which started today.

The shortfall is due to less-than-expected Medicaid funding from the federal government.